More than 730 small businesses in McLennan County employing 10 or fewer people applied for grants Waco and McLennan County agreed to make available to ventures waylaid and damaged by COVID-19.

At last count, an advisory committee and Waco City Manager Wiley Stem III had approved 73 requests valued at $184,000, for an average grant of $2,520, a little more than half the maximum $5,000 allowed per grant. The counting and assignment of grades continues, city of Waco Housing Director Galen Price said. With enough applications already submitted to deplete the $830,000 available, the CovidWaco.com portal through which applicants placed their requests has closed for now, Price said.

If the situation changes, the process could start anew, he said.

The Waco City Council and McLennan County Commissioners Court agreed to spend money from the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corp. war chest to assist mostly mom-and-pop establishments get over the hump as various stimulus devices, including Small Business Administration-sponsored initiatives, pave the way for longer-term relief. Qualified applicants must operate in the county, have 10 or fewer employees and must have suffered loss of income because of COVID-19 between March 17 and April 30.

Businesses benefiting from the program, dubbed the Small Business Emergency Recovery Fund, will be expected to make public their participation either with signs posted on the premises or via social media, Price said.

“The biggest need we’ve seen is help with rent,” he said.

The advisory committee looking at applications includes, besides Price, John Bible, CEO of the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce; McLennan County Administrator Dustin Chapman; Kris Collins, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce; Jon Passavant, CEO of Startup Waco; Alfred Solano, president of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Waco Assistant City Manager Deidra Emerson.

Photo gallery: Waco reopens for business on May 1

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